Monday, December 15, 2008

The Wonderful World of Oz

Took the red-eye out of Manila and arrived in Melbourne at 8am on Saturday the 22nd..... Met at the airport by cousin Kellech and soon she, Steve, Samuel and I were headed to the Docklands for some lunch and strolling..... My oh my was it cold.... Brrrrrr.... I froze my butt off......


Then they had a BBQ that night that included Aunt Helen and Uncle Norman and their neighbors... It was a lot of fun.... I found out that Buzz would not be back from holiday until the following Saturday....


Sunday was a craft fair day.... Also visited the Victoria Market.... I wanted to pick up a 'roo scrotum for Lauren, but I couldn't find any (Lauren, you lucked out – haha)....

Craft Fair Stroll



Monday morning, Steve, Sam and I hung out. Kellech is back to work part time...


Steve learning the Knot Trick


Success..!!!


Sam wants to play...


Give me that..!!



After dropping Sam at day care, Steve and I spent part of the afternoon in a traditional Aussie pub.... We enjoyed huge chicken parm sandwiches (everything is bigger in Australia) and a wonderful sampling of good Australian draft beer while we shot a few games of pool....



On Tuesday, Kellech had work, Steve had school and Sam had daycare, so Aunt Helen and Uncle Norman took me shopping for opals.....


Downtown Melbourne


Uncle Norman and Aunt Helen takin' a breather....



We had a wonderful lunch at an Irish pub on the banks of the river Yarra.....

Wednesday afternoon we headed to St. Kilda to watch the nightly procession of the penguins there.... We spent 6 hours playing on the beach, walking the pier, eating huge “King Prawns”, watching penguins and rakali (native water rats), and generally enjoying a beautiful evening and sunset over Port Phillip Bay....


Kellech, Steve and Sam at the Beach


Sam and I hanging out...


St Kilda Harbor


Downtown Melbourne across St Kilda Harbor


Cousins..


Father and Son taking a break...


A tiny penguin.

Thursday (Happy Thanksgiving to all in the States) was a pretty bad day..... Since Kellech was not going to be at work, she suggested that today would be a good day for Steve and I to take his boat out sailing... He has/had a 27' sail boat with a cabin, diesel engine, etc.... So we headed to the marina where his boat was at a mooring..... The wind was fresh and the marina had a few white caps.... We launched the kayak to head out to the boat.... My first time in a kayak.... Being big, I do not easily fit into a kayak and this was no exception.... But we made it out to the boat safe and sound..... Steve had not visited the boat in over 5 months, so the first order of business was bailing out the bilge


Steve Bailing



and cleaning 5 months of bird shit from the boat.... The sun was shining so we spent a few hours with the housekeeping chores..... Ate a nice lunch and had a couple of VB's (Victoria Bitter, the local brew)... The diesel engine wouldn't start, but there was an outboard on the boat which fired right up....


Starting the Outboard
But it wouldn't stay running..... So the discussion came to sailing off of the mooring... Not a real big deal as I had done that on numerous occasions.... Sooooo, Steve said he would kayak around the boat and try to remove as much bottom growth as he could from the bottom of the boat using the kayak....


Cleaning the Bottom



The chunks he was pulling off were longer than 2 feet..!!! That should have been a warning.... But we failed to heed Neptune (time and time again).... The first of many mistakes...... Well, we raised the sails and let go of the mooring with me at the tiller (and no working engines, but the breeze was blowing a steady 15-20 knots or so)..... Once we were clear of the mooring, I attempted to steer the boat towards the main shipping channel that we had to cross in order to sail in the bay..... Notice I use the word attempted.... Another of Neptune's warnings that we did not listen to..... Big mistake.... No, huge mistake...... The boat was virtually unresponsive to the helm... The only way I could get her to change course was by sculling very aggressively with the tiller.... And my impact was minimal.... Well, we made it across the channel and the first of 4 squalls hit..... Now, I was in short sleeved shirt and the squall was fierce with marble sized hail... So Steve and I were now completely drenched, cold and on a boat that has virtually no steering..... We decided to try to cross the main shipping channel and return to the mooring field and go for any mooring we could pick up..... Well, now it really starts to get interesting as the the first attempt to cross the channel results in a near collision with a frickin' HUGE container ship..... Holy crap, how did that happen..... Complete with horn blasts, tug boats, etc.... Not a good thing... Another Neptune warning...... Well, after the near miss, I promptly handed the helm over to the Captain as I had had enough of the “boat that wouldn't steer”.... Steve had the tiller for about 10 minutes and could get no response to his frantic efforts to steer so he handed the tiller back to me..... We spent the next 4 hours trying to cross the channel again to get the mooring field..... Battling winds, squalls, hail and the approaching darkness of night...... Finally Steve says, head for the pier which was downwind and we hoped that we could steer for that.... By the way for all you sailing fans, the boat would not tack... The only way we could change our point of sailing was to jibe...... And even that took a Herculean effort at “sculling” with the tiller/rudder..... Well, thanks to the brisk breeze we now were really moving downwind... The pier was at the end of a long fetch so the waves were building and as we approached the pier, I was wondering how in the heck we were going to slow the boat down and actually make contact with the pier...... As we got close to the head of the pier, we dropped the sails and I tried to nose her into the end of the pier..... The pier was an old one, undergoing major reconstruction... Much of it was rotted away and many of the pilings were just below the surface of the water.... The top of the pier was about 10' above the water... And this was a big pier... Probably 50 yards wide and 1000 yards long..... Well between the waves and the wind and the kelp on the bottom of the boat, we basically were swallowed up by the end of the pier... For the next 10 minutes as the boat was being continually smashed up against the pier and pilings by the wind and waves, we struggled to keep her off the pier as we heard smashing and crashing and breaking of the deck and the guitar string twangs as the standing rigging would hook on some jagged/ragged part of the pier and then let go..... Well, finally the inevitable happened.... One of the submerged pilings smashed the rudder and holed the boat... Within 3 minutes, she was on the bottom.... OMG..!!! We were barely hanging onto the pier with no shoes, wet clothes and not much else..... To make matters worse, the pier was a construction site so we were “locked in” with no sign of anyone to let us out..... We had to “break out” of the construction zone..... We then walked about 1-1/2 miles to the nearest pub.... Ordered a beer and a shot and just stared into space, not saying a thing..... It was a very unique moment in time.... Steve called Kellech to “rescue” us and as the night grew darker, our day ended.....

Friday was truly “Black Friday” around the Metcalf household.... Steve had contacted the local marine police and was told that he needed to “salvage” the boat... So he contacted a local salvage company and they thought that the fees could be in excess of $5,000..... Not a good day..... Basically just hung around the house and relaxed.....

Saturday was the music festival in Queensclif...




Sam found a friend..!!





It was a great party with lots of different musical acts....


Great Blues...


Acapella


Aboriginal Music


Music in the Church


Big voice for a young girl..!!



We stayed there until 5pm or so


The Quennsclif crowd...
and headed back to Melbourne for a final feast at Aunt Helen and Uncle Normans apartment.... There apartment is huge (it is actually 2 apartments connected, so there is mucho square footage)..... And Buzz had made it back to Melbourne from his holiday up in northern Queensland..... A grand evening was had by all...


Cousins..


On the deck...


Buzz and Aunt Helen


Brother and Sister



Uncle Norman Relaxin'
Sunday morning Buzz came by Steve and Kellech's to take me to the airport.... I got bumped to 1st class for the entire trip to Manila (all 10 hours of it) so it was nice to sit in a seat that I fit in.......

Next adventure..... Back to the States for a huge Christmas celebration in Florida with friends and family.... More on that in January.... Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all of you......

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The pictures are fabulous!!! You really got some wonderful family memories for us all to share, but what a horror show re: the boat - I thought you were joking when you said you'd sunk the yacht. Thank goodness you are both alive - I did notice that Steve wasn't smiling much in the next day pix! Do you notice that Liz and Kell look quite a bit alike? Bert and Linc.

the mom said...

loved the update! wow, sinking a ship in australian waters...hope you were watching for fins! and sam is SUCH a cutie, maybe someday we can all head over for a visit. xoxo